Wednesday, August 31, 2016

No Man's Sky (3/5)

Exploring can be fun in itself, but a game without goals, no matter how impressive the game, can quickly become a repetitive exercise in boredom. However, No Man's Sky keeps you busy with two fundamental goals. The first goal is the one that will dominate your time in the game: survival. To survive, you'll need to keep your exosuit powered up with resources such as carbon or--I'm not kidding--plutonium. The stuff can be found with a little exploration on any planet, and harvested quickly with your laser mining tool. Resources will also be necessary for fueling your starship and keeping your multi-tool and boltcaster charged. Sometimes, you'll come across rare mineral deposits, such as gold, platinum, or new minerals even more highly valued. You can aggressively extract the resources you want or need, but there's something about the act that almost suggests you're destroying the natural order of things. These subtle pangs of guilt could be caused by the small, robotic sentry drones that fly around, slowly patrolling on every planet. If you spend too much time harvesting a particular resource and the drones catch you in the act, they'll open fire and call other drones. I have yet to uncover the mystery of the drones (Why are they there, and who put them there?), but that leads to the other goal...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

No Man's Sky (2/5)

No Man's Sky has plenty to offer an intrepid explorer, including countless planets each with their own weather system, vegetation, alien lifeforms, and structures ranging from tiny claustrophobic shelters to small outposts connected to the galactic trade network. There's plenty to do, with different objective areas on a planet, more easily discovered when you find a location beacon that pings the location of points of interest with distant icons—a crashed starship, a distress signal, or even an alien monolith. As you explore, you can scan and catalog the planet's flora and fauna, if you encounter any lifeforms. The indigenous creatures are usually not a threat, many of them being non-aggressive herbivores. However, some lifeforms will rush to attack you as you fumble for your boltcaster to dissuade them. This happens so rarely, though, that when it does, you'll probably not be ready and will jump with surprise, having been lulled into complacency by the quiet and vast expanse of the planets you'll explore. Often, I felt more of a threat from planetary weather systems; acid rain, solar storms, and sudden freezing temperature drops at night convinced me that I should never wander far from where I parked my ship!

Monday, August 29, 2016

No Man's Sky (1/5)

I'd you're unfamiliar, No Man's Sky is a sci-fi video game that released almost three weeks ago. Consider a few things about this game: the people at Hello Games are a very small development company, and this is one of the biggest-hyped games of 2016, so they had a lot of high expectations to live up to. There has been a public outcry from many gamers expecting something different from the game, and it has been so severe that many game stores and online sales outlets have been refunding the dissatisfied gamers' money. Many seem to have expected a multiplayer experience with lots of aliens, but it's not a space opera, and the universe is so vast that you are very unlikely to bump into a friend. Yet I had a lot of fun playing it while another friend of mine was playing it online at the same time—we started a private chat room and talked about the game as we explored, sharing discoveries and experiences as we had them. Personally, I think the public outcry against the game is because some came at it with totally different expectations about what it was—it definitely breaks the standard definition of a video game. However, if you look at it for what it is, there's a lot to consider. With a massive procedurally generated universe containing 100 billion realistic galaxies, completionist gamers need to set aside an estimated 5 billion years to fully explore the game. Yeah, it's THAT big. But as we gamers know, the ultimate question that needs to be answered is this: Is it fun?